Voters to Decide Nauset Regional High School Renovation Project

Nauset Regional High School

EASTHAM – A district-wide vote in the spring will decide on proposed renovations for Nauset Regional High School or risk losing out on over $36 million in state funding.

Nauset Regional School Committee Chair Chris Easley said that the high school project had been in development for five years when it was accepted by the Massachusetts School Building Authority which provided the $36.6 million in funding for the high school project.

However, when the committee attempted to bring the project to town meeting earlier this year, schools had already begun to close and town meetings were cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The state requires towns to vote on the funding within 60 days of when funds are requested, and the school committee was forced to request postponements.

The first request pushed the deadline to October, and with COVID-19 still impacting the country, it was bumped again to the most recent and final deadline of May 31, 2021.

“That is the deadline for the towns to vote their portion of the funds for the project. If they fail to do so, or if the vote goes down, we lose the $36 million from the state,” said Easley.

Easley said that there are essentially two paths that the project can take, a 60 percent remodel and a 40 percent rebuild of the school with funding from the state, or a “code upgrade only” option to bring the buildings up to code.

The code upgrade would not bring the school up to the educational standards of the state, so the state would not participate or provide funding and costs would fall to taxpayers.

“The cost of a code upgrade for Nauset High School is $98 million. In essence, it would cost the taxpayer more not to do the new high school but to go for the code upgrade. Logically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s where we stand,” said Easley.

The construction cost for renovating 60 percent of the aging buildings and adding new structures for a 900-student school would be $131.8 million.

With the $36.6 million on state funding, the cost spread across individual taxpayer households of the region would be approximately $95 million over the terms of a 20 or 30 year bond, said the Committee.

A new, smaller school designed for 600 to 700 students was also proposed and would cost roughly $126 million.

Easley said while it would be a slight savings over the rebuild and renovate project, it would not be covered by the MSBA and so would not be eligible for state funding, meaning all the cost would be on the taxpayers.

Under the proposed High School project renovation plan, the buildings would be gutted and new HVAC equipment, including boilers and water heaters, would be installed.

The project would focus on improving efficiency and reducing the costs to run the school in the long run.

Easley said that the project would also aim to be environmentally friendly from a building standpoint as well as long-term school operation.

Aesthetically, the 50-year old school buildings would undergo a change, as well.

Easley said that as a community asset, upgrading the school is of vital importance for both student education and community growth.

“A key reason that makes it a desirable area to live in, is that our children receive a great education in the Nauset system,” said Easley.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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